tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC December 4, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
city. bottom left, that's washington, d.c. that the bottom right there with all the blue flashing lights, that's chicago. we're keeping an eye on these as we're keeping an eye on these as they come in. both correspondents in the field and with live feeds from these protests, people walking among them. we each keel you posted as we stay alive. our coverage continues now with "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> thank you very much. we can't breathe reads the front page of today's new york daily news. that's one of the chants the demonstrators around the country are using to protest the new york city police killing of eric garner. >> if i can't breathe -- >> you can't breathe. >> failure to indict becomes the nation's rallying cry once again. >> protesters are back on the streets again tonight. >> there are students, there are advocates. >> people all over the country are lifting up their voices.
>> the system is -- >> guilty! >> fury over the chokehold case. >> it was a difficult decision, we understand. but it was a just decision. >> it's not fair. what do they not see? how could they possibly not indict? >> if you're speaking, you can breathe. >> too many americans feel deep unfairness. >> no laughing matter for anyone including jon stewart. >> if comedy is tragedy plus time, i need more [ bleep ] time. >> there was action and in the action someone died. >> but i would really settle for less [ bleep ] tragedy to be honest with you. >> take that pain and frustration and work for change. >> there's much anger in the air, but we are committed to a dignified campaign. >> the urgency of the moment is a rewakening about the cause of justice. >> we are all responsible now. the weight of history can't be our excuse. >> it's a movement that has been ignited. it will not go away until justice is served. >> what do we do?
>> stand up, fight back! >> before eric garner was choked and killed in what the chief medical examiner labelled a homicide, he said this -- >> every time you see me you mess with me. i'm tired of this. this stops today. >> it stops today. protesters have taken eric garner's words and turned them into the protest chant, this stops today. protesters gattered in cities across the county from new york city to washington, d.c., to oakland, california, and to chicago where protesters shut down lake shore drive tonight. objection to the grand jury's finding crossed political and ideological lines.
>> how this cop did not go to jail, was not held responsible is beyond me. >> this is the new york police completely out of control doing something -- they did not murder him, but manslaughter, absolutely should have been considered. why that wasn't considered is beyond me. >> earlier today, new york city mayor bill de blasio said the new york city police department will retrain its police force to better interact with the community. >> the relationship between police and community has to change. the way we go about policing has to change. it has to change in this city, it has to change in this country. i'm fundamentally convinced it will change. one of the focal points at the academy is changing how our officers talk with residents of the city. changing ou they listen, slowing down some interactions that sometimes escalate too quickly. giving officers a chance to wake up until backup and supervision
comes. deescalating, using less force whenever possible. these are fundamental lessons that will be taught her we now know that 23 jurors heard from 50 witnesses, more than half of whom were police officers, emergency medical personnel and doctors. unlike the michael brown case, the attorney general is not legally empowered to release any more detail about the grand jury at this time. but the lawyer for officer pantaleo told "the new york times" that in his two hours of testimony, officer pantaleo, quote, wanted to get across to the grand jury that it was never his intention to injury or harm anyone.
he was really just describing how he was attempting to arrest someone. >> pantaleo said he tried to get off eric garner, quote, as quick as he could. >> and thought that once emt arrived, everything would be okay. but it wasn't okay. eric garner was left lying motionless on the ground for at least seven minutes. police officers at the scene made absolutely no attempt to help or resuscitate him. when the emts arrive, they also made no attempt to resuscitate eric garner. at one point, one of the officers says, he's still breathing. after an onlooker questions why no one is giving him cpr. today, the president of the new york city patrolman's benevolent association, that is the police union that represents police
officers said that officer pantaleo and all the other police officers and emergency personnel did their jobs properly. >> while bringing that person to the ground, yes, they said we can't breathe. but the police officers and the emf did what they're supposed to do at that time. if you're speaking, you can breathe. >> joining me now is anne thompson in lower manhattan. what's the situation there? >> hi, lawrence. we are on east broadway. i'm with a group of about 200 protesters who started their night at foley scare. they walked up to union square. they're now walking back to 1 police. what has been missing tonight are the confrontations that we saw last night between police and protesters. this has been a very peaceful march.
in fact, one of the ironies is that even though they chant sayings that are very derogatory to the new york police, it's the new york police department that's clearing roads that they can march without getting hit by traffic about ten minutes ago, the police were lined up. to stop the protesters. and, in fact, behind me, there are some police officer cars who are sort of catching up, you know, making sure the protesters are protected as well. but the point of this protest tonight is to command accountability from government officials. these people say they want an indictment in the death of eric garner. if it hasn't happened on the local level, they want it to happen on the federal level. and they won't rest until that happens. lawrence?
>> few thank you very much for joining us tonight. we're now joined by joy reid and eugene robinson. you have the protesters echoing eric garner saying i can't breathe. the new york city police union leader explained the medicine of this for us today. he said if you're speaking, you can breathe. >> yeah. and that has become a talking point for people who want to defend the officer here or want to blame eric garner for his own death and say essentially it's his own fault. you can see even at one point his hands are raised. he was not offering resistance. and just the fact that he could get out the words. you could hear him barely able to get the words out. that means he was breathing. evens after he was down. the symmetry between this case and the reaction of human beings to somebody lying on the ground
in extreme duress is none. no reaction at all. tamir rice left on the grown dying before anyone offered him any aid. eric garner lying there dying and people are videotaping it saying this guy can't breathe and this sort of nonchalant reaction of the people around him, no one to offer aid. and then mike brown's bodily lie on the ground like waste for four hours. when people use the term black lives matter, that's what they're talking about. the fact that a human being's demise is unremarked upon by authorities standing right over him. >> you gene robinson, new york city is filled with great emergency medical technicians. eric garner got the bad luck of
getting what looks like the worst emt team working in america that day. they, i believe, should have been as much worried about the jut come in that grand jury as officer pantaleo. the idea that only one person there was possibly legally responsible for that death i think is fiction. i think there was a gross dereliction of duty by the emts and others. >> i think they may have been the worst emt team in the world operating that day. and frankly, the first time i saw the they had, that was almost more shocking to me than the altercation and the chokehold. the fact that people whose jobs it is to save lives clearly saw a life that wasn't worth saving, as far as they were concerned. or even trying. and, you know, this has got to change. this simply has got to change.
it's cold comfort to say that maybe people will realize this after the events we've seen. it shouldn't take this sort of thing to make people do their jobs and do their jobs in the proper way. >> everyone on that scene responding was contemptuous of eric garner even why he was dying there before their eyes. we have a really striking moment here where there were some people on fox news last night expressing shock at this outcome at the grand jury. this goes across the political spectrum. i want to listen more about what glenn beck said about this today. >> this is the way americans deal with injustice. we've let the system work. the system didn't work here. now let's calmly, rationally say why didn't the system work? what were the instructions to the grand jury.
what was the evidence that they say, you know, didn't matter? because we've seen the video. explain to me how that's not manslaughter. if it's because of some loophole, we americans need to fix that loophole. >> we've been here before. the trayvon martin started off as a universally agreed upon something egregious here. but there is no question. this is the videotape. and much like the rodney king case, you're asked not to believe your lying eyes. what you see in front of you is not what you're seeing even though it violates their actual policeman you'll. you can't do that. since 1993. one of the charges, the most minimal charge that officer pantaleo could have been charged with has the words, compression of the neck in it. it describes what happened but
yet the grand jury couldn't find it. i was struck by a "daily news" interview with the young man who shot the video. he said he testified for ten minutes. the officer testified for over two hours. he said the grand juries were indifferent to what he had to say. the only questions they had were about eric garner's actions, why was he there, what was he doing? i think the fact that people even with the videotape can't bring themselves to see, not a crime, but the possibility of a crime, something worthy of going to trial, does lead you to ask, no matter where you are on the ideological spectrum, if you can't get an indictment here, where can you get an indictment? >> and lawrence, lawrence, conservatives should be going crazy over this. >> yes, they should. >> there's no greater power that we entrust to the state than the power to take liberty and life. and to see it misused and abused in this way in case after case after case should be driving conservatives just crazy.
we've had a little of that from the conservative side, but we should have a lot more. >> yeah, police officers are the only government workers whose abuse conservatives will defend under any circumstances. and the only unions and the only union members and the only union leadership the conservatives ever support. >> not only support, but it's the only union that's absolutely 100% effective. we have neutered the union movement in this country. they can't protect nurses, they can't protect teachers, but by golly, they can protect the police. i wonder why they would want to protect officers who are clearly violating the codes, the rules they wrote for themselves. i can't figure it out. >> we're going to get more into the police union. did you both for being here tonight. >> up next, the internal affairs investigation into the killing of eric garner and details about the cleveland police officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy.
that officer was actually judged to be incompetent to be a police officer before he got his job on the cleveland police force. and the head of the new york city police union says that the man who killed eric garner, his words, is a model police officer. i'm going to have to rewrite that one a little bit. i have a cold
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>> you're looking at live demonstrations happening right now across the country. protesting the new york city police killing of eric garner. coming up, the police department internal investigation could result in the discipline or dismissal of the police officer involved in causing the death of eric garner.
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departments even though independent studies have found that 25% to 50% of the victims have been unarmed. every one of those words that you just heard, i actually wrote over 30 years ago. in "the new york times'" first op ed police about police abuse of deadly force. much has changed and much has stayed the same. in police internal investigations since then. nypd's internal investigation into the killing of eric garner is the next challenge the officers involved in that case will have to face. joining me now are a civil rights and civil defense lawyer tell us about the internal affairs procedure that this officer and the others involved in the death of eric garner are going to have to go through.
>> internal affairs will investigation it initially. although they may hold off if there's a federal grand jury proceeding. but assuming that doesn't happen, then internal affairs will investigate, they'll recommend charges and specifications. the nypd advocates office will prosecute the case and in all likelihood, bill bratton will possibly dismiss this officer. >> is there a trial of sorts? >> yes. a departmental trial. >> and he'll be represented by a lawyer? will bill bratton be present in that? >> no. there will be a trial commissioner to serves at the pleasure of bill bratton. >> we don't need the commissioner for this, i will sit in his stead? >> that's right. >> i would be amazed if there are recommendations, after we go through all that, anything other than the dismissal of this officer.
>> why? >> because it's so obvious. i'm more concerned about, are the cases where someone doesn't die, where we don't have a videotape, we have hundreds of those where people are injured, people are falsely arrested. internal affairs does nothing about those. >> mark claxton, what is your sense of how internal affairs will handle this? well, i think it's pretty fascinating. i think most people will agree the relationship between the prosecutor's office and district attorney's office and police departments around the nation is to be kind, symbiotic. the relationship between internal affairs and the police bureaus in their department is actually incestuous. and so there's little confidence from those who have experience and time and evaluate these cases and understand how internal affairs actually operates and how ineffective they've been in really high profile cases and have confidence in their ability.
however, i will say it appears that commissioner bratton has really placed hymn and placed a high standards and it's likely, i agree, it's likely the police officer will be terminated. rudy giuliani when he was mayor fired a police officer even before a departmental trial. there was a conclusion between internal affairs reports. so there is precedent taking immediate action even today. >> talk about that, would there be a sufficient legal precedent for bratton to do that? >> he could if he wanted to. >> then the officer could appeal it? >> yes, there would be a process. >> it would be the same fact finding style. >> in these very high-profile cases here in new york city, with the commissioner like bill bratton in all likelihood, something will be done.
what concerns me the most is i see people who are falsely arrested and internal affairs does nothing about those. lawsuit against nypd went up 100%. they doubled during the last five years of the kelly and bloomberg administration. we're still seeing the effects of that today. a police force of 35,000 people, that's not going to change overnight. there they're still ticketing kids for riding their bike on the seahawk. still arresting people for the most minor offenses. you can get out a summons instead of an arrest. if the person doesn't have id, they run them through the system and take them through booking anyhow. >> they're talking about a change in police culture that the mayor is starting to talk about as a result of this incident and what it's brought to light. talk about what you think needs to change as a result of these situations.
>> there really need to be a tremendous and revolutionary shift in the paradigm of policing throughout the nation. i think since the late '80s and early '90s, a shift away from more community-based models and strong enforcement. bill bratton didn't establish the theory, but he initiated the concepts within the new york police department. so moving towards a community-based law enforcement is a challenge, but what's necessary here. we've gone through these 10 or 15 years of excessive heavy handed overmilitarized, quota driven, data driven enforcement for minor infractions. we've really bombarded the criminal justice system with minor infractions as well. so maybe the shift needs to be
shifting more towards community-based programming, incorporating community ideas and concepts with all the additional training that you can have. >> so i think we have a unanimous agreement tonight that bill bratton is very likely to take a strong action in this case within the internal investigation probably dismissal. and joel, to hear that from you who have seen so many people get away with things in these internal affairs investigation, and mark, for you, too, knowing how easy it is for people to skate through there when there isn't videotape anyway. i've lived in every city where bill bratton has been police commissioner -- boston, new york, los angeles. i've seen him crack down hard in some cases. i've seen other cases where i wish he was stronger. it seems to me based on everything we're seeing from the mayor that your bet, joel and mark is probably right. >> my son was in college in l.a. during the bratton years. i watched that very closely.
but i'm really concerned -- we shouldn't have to wait for someone to die before a bad police officer is fired. that's really the important thing. the important message we should get from this. >> thank you both very much for joining me tonight. a quick programming note tomorrow morning. i will be on "morning joe" along with the new york city police commissioner bill bratton. coming up, the louder defender of the chokehold that killed eric garner. he's in "the rewrite." and we have new details about the cleveland police officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy in his first year as a police officer. he burst into tears at a shooting range and was judged unfit emotionally unfit to serve in a police department. so how did he end up with a cleveland police badge and gun? s more of a control... enthusiast. mmm, a perfect 177-degrees.
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i do not believe time or training can correct the deficiencies. loehmann was distracted and weepy and incommunicative on the gun range. due to his inability to manage personal stress i do not believe he shows the maturity needed to work in our employment. officer loehmann was recommended for dismissal from the independence police force after just six months, but he was allowed to just resign. when the cleveland police department hired mr. loehmann, they did so without having seen that personnel file with all the comments in it. they only asked the human resource department in the independence office if there were any incidents that they should be aware of, and the answer they got was no.
the cleveland police department said they will now request personnel files from previous employers. but today, attorney general eric holder who was already conducting an investigation of the cleveland police force before tamir rice was killed announced this. >> after a thorough and independent review, the department of justice has completed its civil pattern of practice investigation into the cleveland division of police. we believe there's reasonable cause to believe the police engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and as a result of systemic deficiencies including ined a qualm training inadequate engagement in the community. professor, there's the attorney general saying patent practices of using excessive force and inadequate training.
but there was no amount of training apparently that was going to turn timothy loehmann into a useful police officer. >> absolutely, lawrence. timothy loehmann should have never been hired by the cleveland police department. it brings into question the recruitment and psychological testing of these officers, as well as the investigation of their backgrounds. he was mentally unstable. he should have never been allowed to police the streets of any city. >> what is the reaction tonight in cleveland to both the attorney general's announcements about the department. is that something that people were not surprised by, or had a feeling about? and then also, the idea that that police force could have hired someone like this. >> well, the feeling in the community is one of cautious optimism.
we've been down this road before. the justice department was here. they found the same consistencies that were cited in this investigation. they're cautiously optimistic that we will be at the table and engage and that in light of these recent tragedies, the unfortunate death of tamir rice and a mentally ill woman that died in police custody no more than two weeks ago that substantive change will actually come this time. >> and what about hiring practices. they finally decided oh, i guess we will do background checks on the police officer wes hire. >> well, y e. but that has to be part of the process going forward. as we move forward with the negotiating, the consent degree the city will sign with the
justice department and the involvement of the community and a collaborative agreement type of approach that was taken in cincinnati and other cities that have come under the jurisdiction of the justice department. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you for having me. coming up, in "the rewrite" the staunchest defender of the use of a deadly chokehold against eric garner. we'll tell you that what you see on that video is not a chokehold. denver international is one of the busiest airports
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police officer. that's the way police unions play it. they don't care about the truth in cases like that. they care about nothing other than getting their guy off the hook. and they have no problem, none, standing in front of microphones and saying things that are provably untrue in the regular course of their public relations campaigns for police officers in trouble. patrick lynch was not content to say today cha the officers who participate in the homicide of eric garner did nothing against the police rules or did nothing technically illegal. that was not good enough for him. he had to go all the way. he had to say that the officer who violated the department's 20-year ban against chokeholds is a model of what we want a police officer to be. that model police officer has already cost the city of new
york at least $30,000 in a lawsuit where he was accused of illegally strip searching two black men and touching their genitals. that model police officer is being sued in an unlawful arrest case that's still pending. the new york city police force is the largest in the country with 34,000 sworn officers. most of them have never been sued by anyone for anything and never will be. most new york city police officers have never kill anyone and will never kill anyone. most new york city police officers, and most police officers in america complete their entire careers, decades without ever firing a shot in the line of duty. that is the profile of a model police officer. never in trouble, never the
subject of a grand jury investigation. never investigated by the internal affairs department, never sued for violating the rights of citizens. here was the union leader's description of the chokehold that we've all seen that he said today was not a chokehold. >> a chokehold is directly to the neck and brought to the ground that restricts your video. if you look at video impassionately, it was a seat belt or takedown maneuver. one arm was under his under arm and another under his shoulder. remember, a shorter police officer bringing down a large man to the ground. and when he could release that seat belt maneuver, he did. >> see? that's not a chokehold. that's not what you saw. it's a seattle belt maneuver. you know how your seattle bet wraps around your neck really
tightly the way it's supposed to so you can't breathe? that's all that happened, the classic seat belt maneuver. that's what the union leader did today, stood in front of the a microphone and rewrote a chokehold to a seat belt maneuver. he's willing to do that, stand up there and say anything to defend the indefensible whenever necessary. but as is customary, patrick lynch was not content to depend his officer in trouble. he needed someone to attack, since his police officer was not to blame for anything, someone had to be blamed for new york city's reaction and the world's reaction to watching eric garner's life snuffed out on video. >> what police officers felt yesterday after that press
conference is that they were thrown under the bus, that they were out there doing a difficult job in the middle of the night protecting the rights of those to protest, protecting our sons and daughters and the mayor was behind microphones like this, throwing them under the bus. >> patrick lynch was referring to the most personal aspect of mayor de blasio's comments yesterday. the mayor has a biracial son named dante who president obama says reminds him of himself when he was a teenager. here is what the mayor said that so mortified the head of the police union. >> we have had to talk to dante for years about the dangers that he may face. good young man, law abiding young man who never would think to do anything wrong and yet because of the history that
hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we've had to literally have had to train him as families have all over this city for decades in how to take special care in any encounter he has with police officers who are there to protect him. and that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us and we honor that, and at the same time there's a history we have to overcome so for so many of our young people there's a peer. and so for so many families there's a fear. i've had to worry, is dante safe each night? there are so many feels who worry each night, is my child safe? and not just from some of the painful realities, crime and violence in some of our neighbors, but they say from the very people that want to have faith in as their protectors.
that's the reality. >> for the police union leader who can describe the deadly chokehold we've all seen as a harmless seat belt maneuver, there is no such thing as reality. so you can see like right here i can just... you know, check my policy here, add a car, ah speak to customer service, check on a claim...you know,
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control. it's so, what's the word?... sexy. go national. go like a pro. >> in the new york city times today, it was written, blame the prosecutors not the grand jurors. there is one reason daniel pantaleo is not being charge theed in the death of eric garner, it's because the district attorney did not want him to be. why not? the cynical point of view is that he was playing to his base. staten island is the whitest and most conservative borough in new york and home to many cops. maybe he figured he would take heat however the grand jury came out, but the people who would be protesting in the street in the event of no indictment did not include most of his electorate.
but there is a more benign explanation. maybe donovan just appreciates that cops have one of the most difficult jobs in the world and so he cuts them some slack. it's a very human reaction. joining me now for their perspectives are caleb mason, a former federal prosecutor and law enforcement and norm stamp, former chief of the seattle police department. norm stamper, your perspective on this relationship between police and prosecutors in situations like this? >> rite's a difficult relationship. they must work together to help prosecute cases where you have criminal defendants. the prosecutor, of course, making a decision whether or not you have a criminal defendant in the first place. but when it comes to an in dust custody death, these two factions that have to work together day by day by day may,
in fact, find themselves on opposite ends of the argument. and i think that argues for a major structural change in our criminal justice system. >> i want to read something that i wrote over 30 years ago about this in the "times." i mentioned this article earlier tonight. i want to get your reaction to it about what's changed in the last three decades. i wrote then, an obvious symbiotic relationship exists between prosecutors and police in most of their work, prosecutors rely heavily on police officers. they are both part of the same law enforcement team and they usually behave accordingly. the secrecy of a grand jury is a good cover for a federal or local prosecutor who wants to avoid bringing homicide charge against police officers. caleb from your perspective, what has changed in that dynamic in the last three decades? >> i teal you one thing that has changed is that every major
department in the country, this is district attorney and police departments as well have very robust internal affairs divisions. and most district attorney's office including here in l.a. are devoted solely to prosecuting police officers. so attorney generals recognize this problem, the problem that mr. stamper refers to is certainly real. and the way to get around it is to insulate a group of senior professional civil servants. that is the prosecutors in these specialized units who have their own investigators. they don't' anything to the police department. they have long-time service. and really can effectively prosecute these cases. but the problem that he refers to is real, and i think to some degree it's intractable. i think the problem is much worse, much harder to solve in
excessive force cases thanes in other forms of corruption, as you know, police officers are also prosecuted for taking bribes or dealing drugs or discourting defendants. in those cases it's very easy to see that a crime has been committed. the difficulty is the police officer is doing his or her job have which in many cases is prelicely to use force. they may have gone too far. those are very, very difficult issues. i don't think there's going to be an's si solution to this. but the dedication of a unit to prosecute police officers is one many district attorney's offices founds work well. >> i want to get your view of what you've seen on that videotape in the arrest and death of eric garner. what do you think in training off of that videotape should be pointed out that could be done
differently? >> i don't think the answer is training. it's critical, i don't believe that's ultimately the answer. what has to happen is a new structure for american law enforcement, one that will help inculcate different views, different values and ultimately different behavior. my personal belief is that we have too many police officers, white police officers who are afraid of young black men. and as a consequences behave accordingly. now they don't express that fear because that's an unacceptable emotion in the police department. but those who have confidence do not jump on an individual under the circumstances that i saw in the garner case.
>> we're going to have to stop there and continue this another night. thanks very joining me. chris hayes is up next. you can feel inside the pain of "hardball" starts right now. federal case. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight, the grounds for a federal case against the officer or officers involved in the death of eric garner. is what we see reason in itself to bring one or more officers to trial in federal court? was this citizen denied his rights under the law or treated fairly? it's a fair question to ask. a decision that the united states justice department will have to make. if attorney general eric holder gets his way, we'll get that answer soon.